Tuesday, 31 May 2011


A thought struck me this morning when I went to the local shop to buy the Echo. I glanced at the other newspapers and saw a myriad of mostly pathetic headlines and thought it was stupid that so many newspapers were total rubbish.
Then I thought that no matter how stupid they are people are entitled to read what they want to.

And that got me thinking about competition. Competition is no bad thing when it comes to things like newspapers. We might shake our heads over the fear mongering of the Daily Mail, or the celebrity tat in The Sun but we don't have to buy them. We are free to ignore them if they are not what we want.

On the other hand, there are some instances when having competition is counter productive. Recruitment agencies for example.

When I first started out job hunting as a teenager, there were no recruitment agencies in my town. Every job going was advertised in the jobcentre. A one stop shop as it were. It advertised every job available locally and also a few national vacancies. Advisers were also able to look for a particular job title in any other area.
Many employers now don't use the jobcentre, they use recruitment agencies instead. While this may seem logical, it makes it a bit of a nightmare for the jobhunter.
You don't want to miss any potential job so you have to sign up with all of them.
You make an appointment, go along with your CV, then fill in a form with the same details that are on said CV and then you do the tests. Spelling, grammar, maths and typing speed. (yes I am using my own experience of looking for admin work, other types of work will obviously not use the same tests)

And you do this for every single agency you sign up to. And you still have to use the jobcentre, because there are still a few jobs there and of course you have to use to to sign for your benefit.
That's an awful lot of time spent doing the same thing.

Wouldn't it be a lot easier and much more streamlined if there were still a one stop shop?

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Channel 4 on the WCA

Channel 4 has been covering the welfare reform bill and interviewing people about the effects is will have on them and their thoughts about it. Yesterday, along with coverage from the hardest hit march in London, they showed an interview I did for them on my experience of the WCA and what it's like living on benefits

NHS march speech

A few weeks ago, I attended a local march for the NHS and gave my first public speech. I thought I would post it here

2 years ago I came down with my first symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. It was scary – when half my face went numb I thought I was having a stroke.

Four days later, when it was worse instead of better, I made a same day appointment to see a GP.

She sent me straight to the hospital.

When I arrived I saw 2 nurses who settled me in, made me comfortable and did the unenviable task of swabbing for MRSA.

After that I saw a doctor who took some blood and did a few more unpleasant tests. I didn’t envy her either.

I also saw a consultant. He asked a few exploratory questions and ordered a MRI scan. It was booked for the following day.

2 days later I had the result and 5 days after that I saw a neurologist who explained what was happening to me.

The whole thing, from GP to specialist, took a week. Just one week.

I was formally diagnosed with MS last year. I have a wonderful neurologist who I see regularly and a brilliant nurse who I couldn’t do without. I have the support of a whole team, including a physio and an occupational therapist and I’m on drug treatment to help prevent further relapses.

By contrast, my American friends who have MS are lucky if they ever see a nurse. Some of them have never seen one – they have no support at all. No-one to ask questions, to advise on treatments or infections, nothing. A few are struggling to get treatment because their insurance companies won’t pay for it.

And it gets worse. I have a friend whose husband had suspected cancer and needed an MRI. They had to wait till they could afford to pay for it.

Another had to pay 7000 dollars just to have a baby.

One lady went into hospital for a miscarriage and came out with a bill.

This is the reality of life without universal healthcare. Every single one of my American friends looks at our NHS and wished they had something like it.

I used to feel a sense of relief that nothing like that could ever happen here. No-one would ever have to suffer because they couldn’t afford treatment.

I don’t feel that now. If the health reforms go through, those horror stories will become our reality.

The NHS isn’t perfect. But it’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative